Commercial rocket from New Zealand reaches orbit

2018-01-21 12:28
The Electron rocket, "Still Testing" is prepared for launch on the Mahia Peninsula on December 12. The launch was scrubbed after an engine glitch on launch caused engineers to abort the flight. (Rocket Lab via AP)

The Electron rocket, "Still Testing" is prepared for launch on the Mahia Peninsula on December 12. The launch was scrubbed after an engine glitch on launch caused engineers to abort the flight. (Rocket Lab via AP)

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Wellington — A rocket launched from New Zealand has successfully reached orbit carrying commercial satellites.

California-based company Rocket Lab says its Electron rocket, which carries only a small payload of about 150 kg, successfully deployed an earth imaging and two other satellites for weather and ship tracking.

Company CEO and founder Peter Beck says the launch marks the beginning of a new era in commercial access to space. He says deploying customer payloads on a second test flight "is almost unprecedented."

The company last May reached space with its first test launch, only to abort the mission due to a communication glitch. It has official approval to conduct three test launches and sees an emerging market in delivering small devices, some as big as a smartphone, into orbit.

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